Friday, November 21, 2014

Using Information as part of Problem Solving Process

Since October 25th I've been posting a series of articles that use concept maps as a tool for communicating strategy for helping kids in poverty move from birth to work, while also pointing to resources available to support leaders who adopt this commitment.

In the Tutor/Mentor Institute blog you can see more articles where I've embedded concept maps and ideas on systems thinking.

Today I'd like to introduce another map, showing the process I've been developing over the past 20 years.

On the left, I show the inputs, or information I've been aggregating since I formally created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. Across the middle I show various ways I've tried to expose this information to a growing number of people. Since I've never had advertising dollars, nor support from high profile business, political or celebrity spokespersons, the number of people I've reached has been limited, but still over a million visits to my web sites alone since 1998.

On the right, I show how formal and informal learning can help people innovate new ways to draw resources to all tutor/mentor programs in a geographic region as large as Chicago, and to help leaders of these programs use these resources, and what they can learn from each other, to constantly improve the work they do to connect youth and volunteers and help kids succeed in school, and move to jobs and careers not limited by poverty.

I've been sharing ideas like this on blogs since 2005 and email newsletters since 2001. I published printed newsletters between 1993 and 2001. Everything I've done can be done much better by others who may have more talent and resources than I have.

I've been looking for leaders in business, universities, philanthropy, etc who embrace the strategies and the way I share this information, and who want to adopt my efforts and support them with their own leadership and resources into future years.

If you're interested, here's a link to social media places where you can connect with me.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tutor/Mentor Web Library Aims to Support Innovation in Youth Support World

On October 25 I started a series of articles showing Concept Maps I've created. The first was a "Strategy Map" that could be adopted by any one in business, philanthropy, politics, as a unifying image that engages the entire village of people in a city in on-going efforts intended to help youth move more successfully from "birth to work" with the help of a wide range of "extra adults" beyond family and traditional educators. Then I showed a 4-part strategy that would lead to achieving this vision, if adopted by everyone who commits to the first map.

This next map shows the information available in the Tutor/Mentor Connection web library.

The library divides into four sections. 1) Research - why and where are volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs needed? What do they look like? How do they differ?; 2) What do I need to know about the "business" of building and sustaining a non profit tutor/mentor program that needs to grow from a start up to becoming a great organization, and then needs to stay great over a decade or longer? How to raise money? How to recruit and train volunteers? How to draw attention to your organization?; 3) If I'm a parent, volunteer, donor, reporter, etc., how do I find individual non-school tutor/mentor programs in Chicago? How might I find volunteer involvements in other forms of service?; and 4) Where can I find ideas about collaboration, innovation, knowledge management, visualization and mapping that I can use to stimulate innovation and constant improvement in my organization?

While the map above shows these four information categories in detail, the map at the left shows the four sections. Click this link to go to the map. At the bottom of each node, you can click into additional maps that offer greater detail on each section, or into web sites with information related to each node.

There is a lot of information in this library, just as there's a lot of information that you will need to learn to get a degree from Harvard, Stanford, Oxford or any other university. You don't need to learn it in a day. Keep coming back to it as you build your program, or you build a corporate support strategy, and look for ideas that you can use to constantly improve the impact and scale of your effort.

I've been following MOOCs, such as the Deeper Learning MOOC, for the past couple of years. I feel the structure of these offers a form of organized learning that could attract a growing number of people who need to be involved in building and sustaining a citywide, or nationwide, network of high quality non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs. Such MOOCs could lead people through the various sections of my library, and of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site, so people build their own understanding of the ideas and resources that are available, and learn to apply the information in their own efforts, and to add new information to the library based on what they are doing in their own programs, and what they learn through their own efforts.

I just need to find partners in universities, business and philanthropy to organize these, as well as manpower and talent to maintain the library, the concept maps, and share them daily with others throughout the world.

Friday, October 31, 2014

How does a city get from "here" to "there"?

There's plenty of information showing a need to provide extra learning support and mentoring for youth in high poverty areas, but few examples of sustained, decades-long, efforts by cities to build and sustain a network of programs reaching a growing number of youth in all of the high poverty areas of a city. I've used maps and graphics to illustrate the need for planning, leadership and resource development strategies that would take a city from its current level of youth serving organizations to a future level reaching more youth with higher impact organizations.

Last Saturday I posted a "strategy map" illustrating a shared commitment that needs to be adopted by leaders in every sector of business, philanthropy, government, education, non profit, etc. so more are innovating and leading actions that support the growth of strong programs.

Then on Tuesday, I posted a concept map illustrating the different supports youth in high poverty areas need to move from first grade to first job, over a 20 year period of continuous support, available in multiple neighborhoods.

So what might a city need to do to mobilize and support this level of sustained effort? Since 1994 I've been piloting a four step strategy aimed at helping tutor/mentor programs grow in all of Chicago's high poverty neighborhoods.

Step 1 includes building a library of information, including information on existing non-school youth serving organizations, and information people can use to borrow ideas from others and innovate actions that lead to constantly improving programs. These actions include new ways to generate flexible operating dollars throughout the program and intermediary network in any city.

Step 2 focuses on the marketing, social media and leadership needed to build public awareness and draw more people to the information in step 1. One of the challenges that must be overcome is the lack of advertising dollars available to create a reach and frequency of message delivery that gets more people involved, and keeps them involved.

Step 3 focuses on ways to help more people understand the information in the library, how it relates to them, and actions they can take to support the growth of one, or many, tutor/mentor programs in the city where they live, or in other parts of the country. There is so much information available that I've written many articles focused on "learning" cultures, where youth and adults are motivated to spend time on a regular basis reading and reflecting on this information.

Step 4 focuses on actions repeated throughout each year, for many years, which generate a greater flow of needed dollars, talent, technology and ideas to every one of the tutor/mentor programs operating in a city, and to every neighborhood where such programs are most needed.

This animation was created to help you understand the four part strategy and strategy map. This PDF also shows the four part strategy. This blog article does the same.

The heart of this strategy is the information collected and shared via step one. Articles I've read about innovation show that if you're exposed to ideas of how other people are already solving the same, or similar programs, you are stimulated in more ways to innovate ways to solve the same problem where you are. I've devoted an entire section of the tutor/mentor library to creativity and innovation ideas.

I've spent the past 40 years thinking of ways to influence youth and volunteers and of ways to build and sustain mentor rich non school programs that focus on the relationships between youth and adult volunteers and the long-term impact these programs can have on youth and volunteers. This, my understanding of how all of these ideas relate to each other is probably more intuitive than most other people in the country.

Yet, because I share my thinking, and my library, others can build learning organizations in high schools, colleges, business and communities and support a process that shares what I've learned with thousands of others, who then add their own ideas and talent to improve what they do to help youth in their communities move through school and into productive, adult lives and careers. Spend time looking at this information, then look for people who may already be leading this strategy in your own community. If you can't find such a group, start it yourselfe, as I did back in 1993.

As you look at this information I hope to connect with you in on-line communities as well as in conferences I host every six months in Chicago or that others are hosting at different times each year.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What does "mentoring to career" pipeline look like?

Last Saturday I posted an article with a strategy map, showing commitments many leaders need to take to help youth living in high poverty neighborhoods move from birth to work. Below is another map I hope you'll spend some time looking at. The link is here.

Most of us take for granted the support system we have that helps shape who we are, and how we grow up. This PDF is includes some graphics that show that the network surrounding kids living in high poverty is much different than that of most kids living beyond high poverty areas.

The concept map is intended to show supports that should be available in the lives of youth as they move from first grade to a job and career. This is a "hub and spoke" design, with the spokes leading to nodes indicating a type of support. In a couple of the nodes, such as the homework help section, you can see how I link to a web library with links to quite a few sites that learners could draw ideas from.

This graphic shows the concept map in a different way, yet it intends to communicate the same idea.

I've been seeking volunteers from engineering, design and architecture firms who would help me create an animated version of this graphic. I'm also looking for writers and data visualization people who will help fill each node on this map with links to information people can use to build and sustain age-appropriate non-school learning programs. If someone is working with a youth in 3rd grade, you should be able to click into that section of the graphic, and find information related to mentoring, tutoring and providing social/emotional support for youth at that age level. If you're working with high school kids, you should be able to click into nodes that show things you can do to support high school youth.

You should also be able to find discussion forums where people are sharing ideas, and where funders, policy makers, researchers and business leaders are also participating. Without their involvement in the process, the commitment of resources will be too narrowly focused, and to short a time frame.

The goal of these graphics is to show that youth need a wide range of support at each age level, and they need this support to continue through high school and post high school years. That means the way programs are supported needs to change, to be more consistent.

The maps on this blog intend to show that this "birth to work" support system needs to be available in every high poverty neighborhood, not just a few neighborhoods.

What is the role of volunteer mentors and tutors? They not only can draw from this information to innovate better ways to support the youth they work with. They can use this to help youth in different neighborhoods have access to more of the supports the youth need.

Visit my Tutor/Mentor blog to read more about these ideas.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Using Concept Maps to Communicate Strategy

If you browse through articles posted on this blog since 2008 you'll see how geographic maps have been used to show where volunteer-based, non-school, learning, mentoring and tutoring programs are most needed in Chicago, based on indicators such as poverty, poor schools, violence, health disparities, etc. In the next few blog articles I'm going to post concept maps that show commitments and strategies that need to be adopted by leaders from business, government, philanthropy, entertainment, sports, and the non profit sector, if the map is to be filled with high quality programs.

I've been using CMaps, a free concept mapping tool, since 2005. This was introduced to me by Ariane Lee, a former Peace Corps volunteer, who worked for me for one year. Once she introduced CMaps to me, I began to create a variety of maps. In these maps you can follow a train of thought, from one node to another. In this strategy map, the blue box at the top can be filled by any leader who makes this commitment. As you follow the train of thought, you'll see small boxes at the bottom of each map. The box on the left leads to other web sites with related information. The box on the right, leads to additional concept maps, that provide deeper thinking related to that specific node.

In this particular map you can see a box to the left, indicating that there is an animated version of this map. It was created by interns from IIT, during six week internships in Jan-Feb and May-June, 2009. The voice over was provided by a Northwestern University graduate, who was serving a one-year fellowship. I encourage you to listen to it. The information it provides will help you navigate the map. Some of the links are broken and this needs to be updated, but the information is still useful.

This strategy can be adopted and applied to Chicago, or to any other city in the world. It can be adopted by a University or a Hospital and focus on the area around that specific university or hospital. If you'd like my help in thinking through your strategy introduce yourself to me on Twitter, LinkedIN or Facebook or email tutormentor2 at earthlink dot net.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Chicago Health Atlas a valuable resource

This map view was created using the Chicago Health Atlas, one of the projects of the Smart Chicago Collaborative.

While a majority of the maps in the Mapping for Justice blog were created by Tutor/Mentor Connection, I've also used articles to point to other map platforms that provide indicators showing a need for extra investment and support of youth and families in neighborhoods highlighted on these maps. In this section of the Tutor/Mentor web library are more links to poverty and crime maps.

Our aim is to encourage, and inspire, a growing number of people to create videos, blog articles, books, slide presentations, etc. that use these indicators to show people beyond poverty where they need to be investing time, talent and dollars to help communities overcome challenges they cannot overcome by themselves. If youth learn to create map stories, and how to communicate these regularly as part of a call to action, they learn skills they can apply in adult lives, and provide talent that helps draw needed resources to various places shown on the map. If you're creating map stories with a goal of drawing resources to volunteer based tutor/mentor programs in different parts of Chicago, or in another city, please share your link.